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Freedom Day, on the 27th of April is an annual celebration of South Africa’s first non-racial democratic elections after Apartheid in 1994. The first elections brought with it a new government, representative of the people of South Africa.

But do you know how South Africa’s electoral system works?

South Africa follows a closed-list proportional representation electoral system. This means that voters do not vote for a particular individual but rather for a particular political party. Each political party decides on a list of members who it wants in the legislature. The fact these lists are closed and cannot be changed by the citizens is where “closed-list” is derived.

The proportionate number of votes each party receives is translated into that party’s proportion of the seats in Parliament. The more votes a party receives, the more seats it receives and the more party members it can seat in Parliament.

After all the seats have been filled, all the members of Parliament vote for one of their fellow members to be the President of the Republic of South Africa. It goes without saying, that the political party with the majority of seats in Parliament will have the most power to elect one of its own members as President. Therefore, South Africa citizens don’t actually vote for the President.